Somehow I managed to write a blog post about hiking while pregnant after recently giving birth to my baby girl! I was lucky enough to have a very smooth, uncomplicated pregnancy and a relatively easy labor and delivery, I due in large part to my active lifestyle. I am not a medical professional so I only offer advice from my own personal experience. So please, if you are pregnant and would like to do physical activity, get the go ahead from your doctor first!
Prior to becoming pregnant I was fairly active, working out a few times a week and hiking at least once a week. After I found out I was pregnant my doctor encouraged me to continue my active lifestyle. She assured me that if I felt up for it, I should continue to hike, so I did!
Some things I kept in mind while I was hiking pregnant:
- If you were active before becoming pregnant, continue your active routine. I was used to hiking once a week at elevation over 8,000 ft so I didn’t think twice about planning a baby moon in Mammoth Lakes. Now if you’re not used to that kind of physical exertion, than I would strongly suggest not introducing that activity while you’re pregnant. You could be putting your health and your baby’s health in danger. But there’s no need to cut out the physical activity you did before you were pregnant!
- Listen to your body. There were days when I felt dizzy and faint and knew in my gut it wasn’t safe to hike. It was better to rest, take it easy and go on that hike when I was feeling up for it.
- Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate! It may seem obvious but pregnant women should drink about six 8 ounce servings of water a day to stay hydrated. I always had a reusable water bottle on me at all times and even started wearing one in a sling to work so my water bottle never left my side! I stayed away from soda and sugary drinks and just drank plain, regular WATER. I also packed plenty of protein packed snacks so I never went hungry on the trail. Some of my favorite snacks were green apples and almond butter, RXBars, trail mix, and greek yogurt.
- Don’t be afraid to modify! While pregnant I knew I wouldn’t be able to manage the typical strenuous hikes I used to do, so I modified. I would hike half the trail, or stick to a local, shaded hike that I knew was more manageable. I also stayed away from any hikes that involved bouldering, dangerous climbing maneuvers, and avoided backpacking (I didn’t want to put any extra strain on my back while pregnant). Some days I would just take a walk around the neighborhood. I felt so much better even from a simple walk outside.
- Watch your heart rate. When I was pregnant my resting heart rate jumped from 45bpm to 70bpm! I wore my Garmin Fenix 5s watch and constantly monitored my heart rate so I knew I wasn’t over exerting myself when I was out and about.
- Switch it up! Towards my third trimester I was getting quite large and uncomfortable. It was also in the height of the summer, hiking in 90 degree temperatures is a no go! So I switched it up and attended indoor pilates classes. I did pilates before and continued to do pilates up until I was 8 months pregnant.
Staying active while pregnant not only made me feel better but also contributed to an easy labor and delivery. My entire labor lasted only 14 hours from when my water broke, my active labor only 20 minutes! Hiking also helped speed up my recovery. I gained about 45lbs during my pregnancy and lost 25lbs in the first 2 weeks.